Friday notes: Kelly, Corwin, Recruiting and more

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(As we get into the routine of the offseason, I’ll try and turn Fridays into a link-dump/notes type of day. (If I remember.) If you’ve got an article you think is worth sharing, send it along to me at KeithArnold@NBCSports.com)

* While I wondered what was taking so long, Brian Kelly announced his two coordinators yesterday: Bob Diaco on defense and Charley Molnar on offense. Here are a few decent quotes from the two coaches, courtesy of Notre Dame’s Sports Information Department:

Diaco on looking at the defensive personnel:

“I really haven’t. I’ve had a chance to read about the personnel, such
as tangible traits. The standards: height, weight, speed, etc. I’m not
too interested in people’s opinion on those guys. I’m interested in
meeting everyone and seeing everyone. I’m sure everybody has something
they can contribute positively to the organization. I’m looking forward
to getting involved a lot more and learning a lot more about each guy.
I know they switched systems midstream through the Coach Weis era, so
I’m sure there is personnel to fit whatever need there is.”

Diaco on recruiting:

“I love recruiting. I’m passionate about it. Most predominately, I’ve
recruited New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Florida. Early in my
coaching career I was in Chicago and I know that area well. I’ve also
recruited in Ohio, Michigan and Virginia based on where I was coaching
at the time. Now, recruiting is recruiting. It doesn’t really matter
where you go. If you’re asked the questions, you have the answers. If
you say you’re going to get the information to the coach or whomever,
you promptly get the information to that individual. If you’re
diligent, detailed, consistent and forthright, it won’t matter if you
are recruiting in Connecticut or Texas or California. That’s what
people are looking for.”

Molnar on coaching quarterbacks:

“I’m a very fundamental coach when it comes to footwork and throwing
mechanics. I’d like to think that quarterbacks under my guidance have
improved dramatically over time. When we first get the quarterbacks,
we’ll try to just teach them the system and have them play within it.
As they mature and get a better grasp of what we do, then we will allow
spontaneity.”

Molnar on his immediate plans:

“For the remainder of today I’ll be immersed in studying our
committed football players and also other players that we are
recruiting that have not committed to Notre Dame. We’ll also be making
my travel plans for what prospects I plan to visit in the very near
future. By dinner tonight, I expect to be on a plane heading somewhere
to see some guys we need to attract to Notre Dame.”

I’ll talk more about these two as the days come, but I’m pretty high on both coaches, as Irish fans should be.

* Our friends over at Blue-Gray Sky did a great breakdown of the players that are left on the roster. The whole article is worth reading, but the Irish return 62 percent of the minutes played from last year, with the big losses being at quarterback (only 11 percent return), safety (2%), and offensive line (43%). Conversely, the Irish return 94 percent of the snaps at running back, 100 percent at tight end, and 86 percent on the defensive line.

* Pete Sampson at Irish Illustrated got an update on blue-chip recruit Seantrel Henderson, who has Notre Dame in his final five schools. Seantrel has kept things quiet in regards to recruiting, but expect Ohio State, USC, and Notre Dame to be in it until the end. Notre Dame’s two most important recruits are going to be head coach Brian Kelly, who needs to make a quick impression with Seantrel and his parents, and wide receiver Michael Floyd, who graduated from Cretin-Derham Hall, where Henderson is a senior.

* The Subway Domer did a nice job on an eligibility chart, utilizing some nifty Google spreadsheets to lets us know who’s coming back and who’s not. Kelly’s still got Brandon Walker and Ryan Burkhart returning as senior kickers, with Nick Tausch already cemented as the starter.

* It hasn’t been reported anywhere yet, but rumors are swirling about former defensive coordinator Corwin Brown ending up at Florida, under no-longer-on-a-leave-of-absence coach Urban Meyer. While Corwin’s star faded this season as the defense went down the tube, this would be an incredible get by Meyer, who had a ton of attrition from his staff. If this is true, Brown will give him another coach on staff with intimate knowledge of South Bend and Notre Dame and a guy on staff who is an excellent recruiter. With Polian on the West Coast and Brown in Florida, the Irish could run into both these guys when going after elite talent coast-to-coast.     

Kizer named MVP at annual ECHOES awards

echoes
@NDFootball Twitter
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DeShone Kizer was named the Monogram Club’s Most Valuable Player for the 2016 season at the 96th annual Notre Dame football awards banquet. Kizer was voted team MVP by his teammates, after throwing for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushing for 472 yards and eight scores.

He was one of 15 players honored with an award at the “ECHOES,” with the following accolades being given:

Equanimeous St. Brown, Offensive Player of the Year.
James Onwualu, Defensive Player of the Year
Greer Martini, Next Man In award
Drue Tranquill, Rockne Student-Athlete Award
Cole Luke, Nick Pietrosante Award
Isaac Rochell, Lineman of the Year
Quenton Nelson, Offensive Lineman of the Year
Scott Daly, Special Teams Player of the Year
Alex Bars, Newcomer of the Year, Offense
Nyles Morgan, Newcomer of the Year, Defense
Ben Stuttman, Scout Team Player of the Year, Offense
Jonathan Jones, Scout Team Player of the Year, Defense
Mark Harrell, Father Lange Iron Cross
Tyler Newsome, Irish Around the Bend

 

 

Notre Dame names 7 captains for 2017 team

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 17: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates after a 10-yard touchdown reception by Corey Robinson against the USC Trojans in the fourth quarter of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 17, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Notre Dame named seven captains for the 2017 season, the most to wear the ‘C’ in school history. Quarterback DeShone Kizer, linebackers Greer Martini and Nyles Morgan, offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, safety Drue Tranquill and walk-on receiver Austin Webster were all given the honor.

McGlinchey returns in the role, the 22nd different two-time captain in the program’s history. New to the job are the rest, including Kizer, who has yet to make a decision on if he’ll return for 2017 yet.

After worries about the team’s leadership heading into the 2016, the naming of captains in the immediate aftermath of the season is a change—Brian Kelly not naming his team’s official leaders into August training camp last year. It’s not an unprecedented move for Kelly (he named Harrison Smith and Michael Floyd team captains at the banquet following the 2010 season), though it points to some changes—some subtle, others not—that’ll likely take hold after a four-loss season.

Webster, a rising senior reserve wide receiver from California who has yet to register a stat in a Notre Dame uniform, made his debut as a sophomore in 2015 against UMass, is the first active walk-on to receive the honor.

 

Irish land blue-chip OL Aaron Banks

aaron-banks
Tom Loy, Irish 247
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Notre Dame received the commitment of 4-star offensive tackle Aaron Banks on Friday afternoon. Picking the Irish over a national offer list that included Michigan, Tennessee, and local programs USC and UCLA, the 6-foot-7, 335-pound Banks reminded all that even if the Irish only won four games this season, Harry Hiestand is still one of the premier offensive line coaches in the country.

Banks made the commitment from a ceremony at his high school in El Cerrito, California. And when he picked the Irish, he added to Notre Dame’s impressive offensive line haul, joining Dillan Gibbons, Joshua Lugg and Robert Hainsey — a key piece of the puzzle moving forward.

Banks is a consensus 4-star recruit and a Top 200 prospect. He took an official visit to Michigan in November, but has been a long-time target of Hiestand’s, visiting South Bend in September and welcoming Brian Kelly and Hiestand into his home after the USC game.

As a big recruiting weekend gets started at Notre Dame, the annual Echoes Awards will serve as the beginning of an important home stretch for a program without a bowl game. As Kelly still looks to lock in a defensive coordinator, not to mention other staff changes still in the air, Banks takes back some of the lost momentum, a key commitment heading into a holiday dead period before a furious finish leading into the first Wednesday in February.

Banks is No. 18 in the Irish recruiting class. He’s an early-enrollee, ready to hit campus within weeks and compete on the interior of the offensive line during spring ball.

Zaire says thank you to Notre Dame

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Malik Zaire #8 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushes past defensive end Mike Moore #32 of the Virginia Cavaliers in the third quarter at Scott Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish won, 34-27. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Getty
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Big week for The Observer. Not just for its advertising revenues, but for the classy gesture that outgoing senior quarterback Malik Zaire made this week.

Thursday’s edition included a letter to the editor from Zaire, who took to the student newspaper not to make headlines around the internet, but rather to thank the university for his experience in South Bend.

While Zaire’s time at Notre Dame is drawing to a close, he will leave as a proud alum. So while he’ll play football next season at another university, Zaire wrote the following in Thursday’s issue:

Dear Notre Dame students and staff,

My life changed for the better the moment I stepped onto the University of Notre Dame’s beautiful campus. The one goal I had set in my mind to achieve was to become a better man, a Notre Dame man. After growing through many trials and triumphs, the thing I’ve learned most from my experience was that if you don’t believe in yourself first, then no one else will. I believed in becoming a better man and succeeding through any circumstance, and I can say that I’ve truly accomplished that. I often refer to the famous quote from the movie “Catch Me If You Can” that was well put by Frank Abagnale:

“Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out.”

I’ve put my heart, soul and passion into the University, the football program, the South Bend community and the Irish community worldwide. I have the unbelievable honor to represent this University to the fullest as a student and soon-to-be alumni. Thank you to the amazing students and staff that I’ve met through the years for helping me grow into the person I’ve always wanted to be. I love the Irish and will always be an Irish alum no matter where I go! I look forward to keeping in touch. Let’s change the world!

Go Irish!

Malik Zaire

Senior
Dec. 7

Zaire is expected to compete for a starting quarterback job next year as a graduate transfer. He’s reportedly taken a visit to Wisconsin and plans to visit North Carolina as well, just two of several programs on the radar as Zaire looks to step in and win a starting Power 5 job.